Complex design thinking: beyond the designer’s point of view


Beyond open questions and empathy, how can designers expose what really matters to communities and stakeholder groups? New models are mitigating designer-bias.

Design thinking is gaining increasing recognition as a means of bringing public services closer to end users and ensuring that diverse requirements are taken into account. It relies on service designers engaging with communities to put themselves in the end-users’ place while setting aside their personal views. As well as delivering greater public good, this has the potential to avoid costly implementation failures when well-intentioned government programs are poorly matched to community needs and expectations.

Design thinking encourages designers and policy makers to look into the hearts of communities and individuals to provide programs and services that will satisfy real rather than perceived needs. However, while they move us closer to understanding what the end-users of services want, the interpretation of the community’s needs remains in a separate arena from the expression of those needs. We can do more to close this gap.

Over the past 15 years, useful ideas have emerged that make it possible to get further into the end-user’s world. They allow us to work at a scale that has not been practicable in the past and to stay in touch with an environment as it evolves. The core of this work is a recognition that stakeholders exert an influence on the environment in which they exist and the environment exerts an influence on the stakeholders. Both the environment and the stakeholders’ needs are dynamic so we cannot rely on a static snapshot that will be overtaken as the system evolves in response to stakeholder behaviour, program implementation and external forces.

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  • Grandma

    This piece should have been marked as sponsored content; it is an obvious puff piece for the sellers.